THE WILLAMETTE WEEK cut employees' pay by eight percent across the board on Thursday, March 12, the same day that Just Out's news editor and arts and culture editor quit the paper in a dispute over payroll.
WW Publisher Richard Meeker says he and Editor Mark Zusman will take 25 percent pay cuts, adding that the paper is even discontinuing coffee service for office employees to save an additional $7,000 a year. According to Meeker, the paper has also cut its circulation from 90,000 to 80,000 in January, with hopes of restoring it by June, blaming the cut on below-forecasted first quarter advertising revenues.
"This was lousy news. None of us likes to do it, but it leaves us as a strong going concern," says Meeker—adding that the eight percent pay cut is unlikely to be restored in the near future. "I just thought it would not be appropriate to offer any sort of silver lining.
"[Mark] Zusman and I are not wealthy people," Meeker continues. "We feed back into this business everything we can. So it makes it tougher, when you essentially run at a very low profit margin."
Meanwhile, the walkout over at Just Out has left Editor and Publisher Marty Davis feeling "angry, frustrated, and a little nervous." Davis says former News Editor Jaymee Cuti and former Arts and Culture Editor Jim Radosta resigned "because I have not been able to maintain scheduled payroll dates during the first quarter. I would be late on payroll."
Cuti and Radosta left their resignation letters for Davis to find when she came into work last Friday, March 13, following the resignation of the paper's former Art Director Blake Martinez, who left Just Out on Tuesday, March 10.
"We hadn't been paid on time for six months and were told to stop inquiring about it," says Radosta. "We just couldn't continue working under those conditions."
Davis says she is "very excited" about filling the two sudden editorial vacancies, telling the Mercury she had 23 resumes on her desk on Monday, March 16. "I could fill the art director position daily 10 times over," she adds.
The next issue of Just Out is scheduled for Friday, March 20, and Davis is optimistic for the future. "We've published for 25 years," she says. "We'll keep publishing it for 25 years. I'm just sorry that I could not offer [Radosta and Cuti] recession-proof jobs."